June 5, 2015
An Excellent 2014-15 Competitive Year Nears Its End
As we approach the end of the 2014-15 competitive calendar with next week’s NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, I wanted to give you an overview of how we fared this year in competition and in the classroom. As I have noted in previous blogs, our Mission is to recruit and develop students to compete at the highest levels in intercollegiate athletics; to educate and prepare our students to compete at the highest levels in life after graduation; and to accomplish both with honor and integrity.
Monday, May 25, was a unique day in our athletics history at Alabama. On that day we crowned NCAA champions in two different sports. Emma Talley won the 2015 NCAA Women’s Golf individual championship on the same day our terrific women’s tennis doubles team of Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe captured their second consecutive NCAA Women’s Tennis Doubles title. While we have had days in our history in which more than one individual has won an NCAA crown, they have occurred in the same sport at either a swimming or track competition. We’ve never had a day in which we saw Alabama students crowned as NCAA champions in different sports. That is, until Monday, May 25.
To say we are proud would be an understatement! It’s simply the latest evidence of the quality of our young people, of the outstanding coaching and mentoring they receive on our campus, and of the excellent support provided to them and their teammates. One of the basic necessities we strive to provide all 17 of our scholarship sports programs is a support system that enables them to compete nationally for championships, and reach their full potential on and off the playing fields and courts. That means providing them with excellent facilities, outstanding nutrition and strength & conditioning programs, the best housing options available, and access to the best care available in pretty much every facet of their daily lives – academics, medical care, professional and career development, among others. And, of course, the SEC provides the best competition and the ability to showcase their talents, individually and team-wise, in front of huge crowds and virtually all media on a national basis. The SEC Network has magnified that ability dramatically this past year for all sports, but especially the Olympic sports.
Emma, Maya and Erin raised our total of individual NCAA champions to 91 in Alabama’s storied athletics history. Over the last two years, Alabama athletes have earned 11 NCAA individual titles. Earlier this year, Kristian Gkolomeev earned the 100-yard freestyle title in men’s swimming, and Remona Burchell took her second consecutive 60-meter dash crown. Seven students brought home eight NCAA championships in 2013-14 — the most in a single year in Alabama history. Emma became the first golfer (men’s or women’s) in Crimson Tide history to earn a medalist crown, while Maya and Erin are the only tennis players (singles or doubles) in Alabama history to win an NCAA title. We have also produced NCAA individual titles in men’s track & field (26), gymnastics (25), women’s track & field (16), men’s swimming & diving (12), and women’s swimming & diving (9).
On the team level, Crimson Tide athletes won two SEC team titles during the 2014-15 academic year (football and gymnastics), giving us six SEC team titles over the last two years, and 19 SEC team championships since 2008. This year, 10 of our 17 sports teams (four men’s, six women’s) are currently ranked, or finished ranked, in the top 25 nationally (as of Friday, June 5):
Teams Currently Ranked in Top 25
|Men’s Outdoor Track||19th|
|Women’s Outdoor Track||25th|
Top 25 National Finishes/Final Rankings
|Sport||NCAA Finish or Rank|
|Football||4th (AP); 4th (USA Today/Coaches)|
|Men’s Golf||19th (Golfweek)|
|Softball||5th (USA Today/NFCA Coaches); 6th (ESPN.com/USA Softball)|
|Women’s Tennis||14th (ITA)|
|Women’s Indoor Track||17th|
2014-15 SEC Finishes (Regular Season)
|Baseball||6th (SEC West)|
|Men’s Cross Country||6th|
|Women’s Cross Country||3rd|
|Men’s Swimming & Diving||5th|
|Women’s Swimming & Diving||9th|
|Men’s Indoor Track||6th|
|Women’s Indoor Track||8th|
*Rowing competes in Big 12 Conference
I feel strongly that there is a significant correlation between the successes our students experience in competition and their potential for success in life after leaving our campus. There are tremendous lessons that can be learned on playing fields and courts (e.g., time management, team dynamics, handling physical and mental adversity, the value of preparation, conditioning, mental attitude and understanding that success can be achieved against all odds). Team sports teach role playing, the need to sacrifice individualism for the good of the team, trust in your teammates, and a spirit of never wanting to let the team down. And, although it’s not especially how we want to learn, there are also valuable lessons to be learned in defeat. Our coaches and support staff are actively engaged in teaching life lessons along with techniques and strategies associated with their particular sport. A coach’s true success is measured by the way his or her players turn out years after their eligibility ends.
Academic Progress Rate Scores Remain High
Every one of our athletic teams continues to score well above the national cutoff standard in the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) the NCAA announced last week. The APR is based upon figures covering the four-year period extending from the 2010-11 through 2013-14 school years. The APR scores serve as a great indicator of the success we are enjoying here in terms of our primary mission. Fifteen of our teams posted scores that were above the national average in their respective sports, including 10 that bettered the national average in their sport by more than 10 points. Our football team scored a 978, which bettered the national average for Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams by more than 18 points.
Nine of our teams ranked among the top three in the SEC in their respective sports. Gymnastics, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s cross country and women’s tennis were all ranked No. 1, while football, baseball and men’s outdoor track & field were ranked No. 2. We were third among the league’s softball teams. Our teams either matched or exceeded their APR from the year before in 16 sports, including six teams that bettered their previous score by at least five points (men’s cross country, men’s indoor track & field, men’s outdoor track & field, gymnastics, women’s indoor track & field and women’s outdoor track & field).
The men’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s golf, gymnastics and women’s tennis teams all scored a perfect 1,000 for their four-year score. Those five teams were joined by the 2012 NCAA champion softball team (993), women’s cross country (995) and women’s swimming & diving teams (991) among the eight UA programs with scores above 990. The baseball (984), men’s tennis (984), men’s indoor track & field (982), men’s outdoor track & field (984) and soccer (988) teams were also among the 13 Alabama teams that posted scores of 980 or better.
As I noted in our last blog, Alabama ranked second among SEC schools with five teams receiving public recognition from the NCAA for their APR scores figuring in the top 10 percentile nationally among teams in those sports, including the 2013 and 2014 NCAA champion men’s golf team, the 2011 and 2012 NCAA champion gymnastics team, the 2012 NCAA champion women’s golf team, the 2014 SEC champion women’s tennis team and the men’s cross country team.
Congratulations to all of our students, coaches and support staff for their tremendous work, particularly Associate Athletics Director for Student Services Jon Dever and his outstanding staff in our Athletic Students Services Department.
Junior Haylie McCleney has been selected as the 2015 Capital One Academic All-America Team Member of the Year for Division I Softball Team, announced by the Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). This is the first such honor for Alabama softball and the seventh overall for any Alabama student-athlete. Alabama has now had a student named the Academic All-American of the Year in their respective sport for six straight years (2010-15). The previous honorees all went on to be named the Academic All-American of the Year across all sports.
Haylie will have a chance to become the fourth consecutive Alabama student to win the award when the overall Academic All-American of the Year is announced in late July. She headlines a list of 34 softball Academic All-Americans, as she earned First Team honors for the second straight season. It also marks the second straight season in which she was named to the First Team as both a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American and an Academic All-American. She is one of only two players in program history to do so, joining Kayla Braud in 2011 and 2013. Haylie is an exercise science major and is one of only seven student-athletes on this year’s list of 34 to have a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Another Great Season for Alabama Softball
Coach Patrick Murphy led our softball team to its 10th Women’s College World Series berth this season, which ended late last Saturday night. The Tide is virtually guaranteed a top-10 ranking in the final national polls for the 11th consecutive season. This year’s team set school records at the plate for fewest strikeouts in a season and in the field for fewest errors made while posting the second-best fielding percentage in our history. The Tide finished the year with a 48-15 record and providing countless thrills along the way!
I was impressed with this team’s steady development over the course of the season. As usual, they represented us with class, character and skill. For the fourth time in the last five years, four of our players earned All-America honors from the NFCA, tying a single-season school record and marking the sixth time it has happened. As mentioned previously, outfielder Haylie McCleney earned First Team honors. Haylie has been an All-American in each of her three seasons at Alabama, including First Team honors in 2014-15. Freshman pitcher Alexis Osorio earned Second Team honors while sophomore infielder Marisa Runyon and freshman infielder Demi Turner were named to the Third Team. We lose some outstanding seniors and will miss them, but with the players we have returning and our incoming freshmen, we expect to continue to compete for the championship in the sport of softball.
The Great Bobby Humphrey on 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot
Congratulations and best of luck to former Alabama running back Bobby Humphrey, who is one of 76 players and five coaches on the 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot, the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame announced a few days ago. Bobby is one of the finest running backs in our storied history, having finished his career as the Crimson Tide’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards (4,958) and touchdowns scored (40). Bobby had an amazing sophomore season in 1986, earning All-America honors while breaking our single-season rushing record with 1,471 yards. In his junior season of 1987, he earned UPI Offensive Player of the Year honors, as well as another All-America certificate. The announcement of the 2016 Class will be made Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, and the induction ceremony for the 2016 class is scheduled to take place during the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria on Dec. 6, 2016.
Here’s a summary of athletic events over the next several days (times listed are for the location of the event: CT is Central Time, ET is Eastern Time, MT is Mountain Time, PT is Pacific Time):
Wednesday, June 10
|4 p.m. PT||Track & Field||at NCAA Championships||Eugene, Ore.|
Thursday, June 11
|1:30 p.m. PT||Track & Field||at NCAA Championships||Eugene, Ore.|
Friday, June 12
|4 p.m. PT||Track & Field||at NCAA Championships||Eugene, Ore.|
Saturday, June 13
|2:05 p.m. PT||Track & Field||at NCAA Championships||Eugene, Ore.|
Where to See, Listen and Follow Alabama Sports
Here’s how to follow Crimson Tide teams via TV, radio, rolltide.com, Twitter and Facebook:
Track & Field
Live Results: http://tfrrs.org/r/36208
TV (Online Only): ESPN3
Catch Alabama Athletics on the SEC Network
Here’s a summary of our athletic events to be televised over the next week on The SEC Network and its platforms. Read this schedule closely as some events can be seen via SEC Network +, which is available online via ESPN3 here. If you can’t make it to our games in person, catch us on radio or TV.
(All times listed are Central Time)
Saturday, June 6
|9 p.m.||Alabama Summer Football Tour||SEC Network|
Monday, June 8
|11 a.m||Alabama Summer Football Tour||SEC Network|
Wednesday, June 10
|10 a.m.||SEC Storied: Croom||SEC Network|
Friday, June 12
|1 p.m.||Alabama Summer Football Tour||SEC Network|
|6:30 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships||SEC Network|
|8 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships||SEC Network|
Saturday, June 13
|12 a.m.||REPLAY: Alabama Spring Football||SEC Network|
|5:30 p.m.||REPLAY: 2015 Football at Ole Miss||SEC Network|
Sunday, June 14
|5 p.m.||REPLAY: 2014 SEC Football Championship Game vs. Missouri||SEC Network|
|7:30 p.m.||REPLAY: Alabama Spring Football||SEC Network|
|9:30 p.m||Alabama Summer Football Tour||SEC Network|
Our teams need your support, so please plan to attend to do your part in 2015-16! A rising tide lifts all boats and it’s up to all of us to Keep the Tide Rising!